Loving dad of 5 dies after infection brought on by common cold

Ben Rudman, with daughter Blubelle.  Picture: SWNS
Ben Rudman, with daughter Blubelle. Picture: SWNS

A grieving woman has told how her fiance died from meningitis which was triggered by an infection brought on by a common cold.

Ben Rudman, 55, went to his GP after feeling unwell but was sent home and told to buy over-the-counter medicine to fight a sinus infection.

He had been suffering from common cold symptoms for two weeks, including a raised temperature, sneezing, and a sore throat.

But the condition had worsened to include severe headaches and heavily blocked sinuses when went to his GP.

His fiance, Sarah Naismith, 36, said he was seen by a nurse who told him his illness was not serious enough for him to see a doctor.

Later that evening, Ms Naismith said Ben was “screaming in agony” and the next day he collapsed in the street on his way to his job as a manager of a children’s charity.

He fell into a coma and was taken to intensive care at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

After five days, doctors told Ms Naismith that bacteria from his sinus infection had entered his brain through the skull and caused meningitis.

After another five days, Ms Naismith was told there was nothing more doctors could do and she made the heart breaking decision to turn off the life support machine and he died on May 5, 2017.

At the time of his death Ben was due to marry long-term partner Ms Naismith, with whom he had a daughter, Bluebelle, now aged four.

In the week before the two year anniversary of his death, Ms Naismith has spoken about her loss and is warning others to demand a second opinion from medical professionals if they suspect their symptoms are more serious.

She said: “Ben had a couple of weeks of a cold. It was just the usual temperature and a bit of a cough.

“He had a slight temperature, sneezing, blowing his nose and sore throat. His temperature went to 39 degrees at one point.

“A couple of weeks into April, he developed some quite serious headaches and his

sinuses were blocked.

“When he was clearing his sinuses he used to put a towel over his head with Olbas Oil.

“When his sinuses cleared, the crack I heard was so loud it was like someone outside was hammering something into the wall.

“After a couple of days of him clearing his sinuses and that awful noise, I made him an appointment to see the GP.

“He was seen by a nurse and that nurse did not feel that it was important enough for him to see a doctor.

“They said it was just a sinus problem and it would clear up by itself.

“She gave him a list of things to get from the pharmacy over the counter and sent him on his way.

“That night, we were preparing for him to go down south to pick up a new car.

“That night I could hear him screaming downstairs.

“It was his headache behind his eyes.

“He insisted I go to bed and not worry about him. I was exhausted from looking after the baby.

“I woke up the next morning and my little girl was on her own, and her daddy had gone.

“I got up around 7am and then he had left. The train wasn’t until 8.20am.

“At about 2pm that afternoon I had a knock at the door from a police officer who said ‘does Ben Rudman live here?’.

“I said yes. He said he had collapsed and had a fit in the street in Stamford.

“They had taken him to Peterborough City Hospital and then they flew him to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

“Here he had all sorts of tests done.

“A couple of days after he had been in, his body temperature was so, so high.

“The medication wasn’t working.

“His kidneys started to fail. They were no longer filtering his blood, so they fixed him up to a machine for his kidneys.

“By that point we still did not know what was wrong with him.

“After five days of life support, that’s when they found out it was meningitis.

“Bacteria from the sinus infection had gone through his skull into his brain.

“That’s when his body started shutting down.

“He was in a coma.

“After another four days, I came in and the kidney filtering machine was no longer there.

“I knew in my heart that he wasn’t going to make it.

“On May 4, we were told we were likely to have to make the decision to stop the treatment.”

The next day his life support machine was switched off and he died minutes later wit his family at his side.

Ms Naismith said: “We wrote a letter to the GP practice and they wrote back with an apology.

“I miss him every single day. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him.

“As the second anniversary of his death comes around I want to use the opportunity to urge anyone with symptoms which don’t go away after a couple of weeks to seek a second opinion.

“We’ll never know if Ben could have been saved but he suffered badly in his final few weeks and it could have been avoided.”